Been a while since you've found a good shareware game? This game is not only fun and addictive, it is non-violent and costs less than $20 (or free to try).

Dynomite is a puzzle/action game from PopCap Games, formerly known for their hit game, Bejeweled. The game was orignally titled Eggsucker and made by Raptisoft, until it was purchased by PopCap in January 2002. It is a descendant of the classic games Bubble Bobble and Bust-A-Move (Puzzle Bobble).

Dynomite inherits the "launch the thing at the big mass of things and match colors to destroy them" gameplay as Bust-A-Move. On the other hand, Dynomite adds many fun new features that it makes Bust-A-Move (and Bust-A-Move 2,3,etc.) seem boring in comparison.


The premise is simple: you hatch dinosaur eggs by creating groups of three or more adjacent eggs of the same color. You control a rotating cannon that is continuously fed colored eggs, one at a time, and has the ability to shoot them at the eggs in the play area. You can also bounce the eggs off the wall for a bank shot.

Hatch several groups of eggs in a row to score "combos" for extra points. Also, some eggs will shake occasionally. If you hatch them fast enough, a "bonus baby" will appear and award you with a bonus. Bonuses include extra points, score mutiplier, widen the play area, or a flashlight that shows the path your eggs will travel.

Dynomite has four modes of play: Endless, Stomped, Fossil, and Time Trial. Each mode is considerably different and requires different styles of play, which I have described below. I found every mode to be very fun, although Time Trial is a little slow paced for my taste. In addition, you can choose Easy, Normal, or Hard difficulty.

There is one major gripe I have about the game. It is single player only, which is disappointing with today's huge number of multiplayer games. Bust-a-Move always had multiplay, and Eggsucker had internet/LAN play, a great feature that was removed during the transition to Dynomite. Another minor annoyance is that saving your game causes you to return to the main menu.

Game Modes

Endless Mode:
As the name implies, the eggs fall in endless amounts until they reach the bottom of the screen, ending the game. The object is to score as many points as possible before that happens, accomplished by clearing eggs. In order prevent the game from going on forever, play becomes increasingly difficult. Every so often, a pterodactyl named Whirly flies around, carrying a new color of egg. If you shoot him, the eggs speed up. If you don't, he adds the new color of egg to the mix.

Stomped Mode:
This mode consists of a series of puzzles, each one more difficult than the last. The eggs do not move as in Endless Mode, but fire too many eggs and Mama Brontosaurus will stomp the eggs lower. Clearing all the eggs will solve the puzzle.

Fossil Challenge:
Another puzzle sequence like Stomped Mode, except instead of clearing all the eggs, you must make the fossil in the center fall. This mode has two submodes: Strategic and Panic. Strategic progresses like Stomped Mode and in Panic the eggs descend like Endless Mode.

Time Trial:
Clear a set number of rows of eggs in the shortest time possible. The eggs do not descend, nor do they get stomped downwards.

Dynomite is a game made by Popcap Games and first immortalized on Microsoft's Zone gaming service. It is a fairly blatant ripoff of Taito's Puzzle Bobble games, also known as Bust-a-Move in English-speaking countries. Both feature a cute dinosaur firing some colored things at some other colored things (In the case of Dynomite it is eggs, while in the case of Puzzle Bobble it is bubbles) and when enough of them of the same color wind up touching as a result, then they break, and any other shapes attached to them are dropped off the screen for a point bonus. Both games even feature action and puzzle modes, and special eggs which when broken do slightly more complex things. The primary difference between the two is that Puzzle Bobble moves the collection of bubbles down every n moves where n is between 3 and 7, and Dynomite moves the collection of eggs down constantly, speeding up when you have them mostly cleared away, and as the game progresses. Both the puzzle and "endless puzzle" (or action) modes have various difficulty levels which control what colors of eggs are present at the beginning of the game and how fast one is meant to go. If the eggs reach past the border at the bottom of the screen, you are "crushed" and the game is over.

There are two versions of Dynomite; A web version featured on the MSN Zone, and a downloadable version for Win32/DirectX called "Dynomite Deluxe". The two games differ in terms of actual mechanics, but are otherwise the same game. The web version is very short on granularity, with the eggs falling down the playfield in small jumps rather than moving smoothly, and with the eggs not actually seeming to move at arbitrary angles as they seem to in the deluxe version. This is a serious problem because the game is controlled with the mouse, unlike Puzzle Bobble which only allows you to aim a launcher back and forth - it has granular firing angles, but it doesn't try to hide it. The deluxe version of Dynomite also has some more sounds, and an unusually long load time which really brings the online experience home. If the deluxe version is unregistered, then it adds extra load time onto its ample startup delay to convince you to register.

Dynomite also features an annoying pterodactyl named "Whirley" who will bring you new colors of egg, making the game more difficult. Hitting Whirley with an egg "whacks" him, and you avoid the color of egg which he is carrying, at least until the next time he comes around. Whirley flies faster each time you whack him, until he gets away and you get a new color. The acceleration and maximum speed at which the eggs they it slow down somewhat.

The other gameplay "innovation" which differentiates this game from Puzzle Bobble is that rather than having bubbles which contain rewards or which are special and thus do things other than just pop, Dynomite has eggs which contain baby dinosaurs. Pop them, and you will be rewarded (within several mouse clicks) with an egg which contains a prize. Pop the egg, and you get bonus points, a score multiplier, or a targeting cross; there are also eggs which narrow, widen, or raise the contents of the playfield. Unfortunately, the targeting cross is a dubious prize at best, as it is very large and tends to make it difficult to see what you are aiming for.

Dynomite has "combos", meaning making several egg-breaks in a row with successive shots. Get enough of them and it is a "dynomite combo", which turns your current egg into a bomb. This is very annoying if your current egg was formerly a bonus. The bomb destroys any egg it strikes and all of its immediate neighbors, as well as raising the eggs about a third of the way up the playfield and halting their progress momentarily. The game will often provide you with all of the proper color eggs you need to get a dynomite combo, but just as often it will provide you with that number of eggs minus one, which can be quite frustrating.

However, that is just about the least annoying facet of the games. One of the things that made Puzzle Bobble so great was the amazingly clean and consistent gameplay. In fact, the game mechanics feel the same between versions 1 and 3 of Puzzle Bobble, though the fourth game did change things considerably. Dynomite has an extremely inconsistent feel, with eggs inexplicably sticking to the sides of others which they are moving past and away from. This tendency is much more pronounced in the online version, but the home game is annoying for this reason as well. The only other issue particular to the online game is that it is provided in a web browser with an advertisement next to it, and when the advertisement refreshes, the browser chokes for a moment and it disturbs your game. In addition, the online version urges you to purchase the deluxe version between each round. Of course, if you have purchased it, but choose to play on the Zone anyway, you still have to put up with these obtrusive interstitial advertisements.

On the other hand, the home version seems to penalize you for doing well at every turn. The targeting cross is larger and more offensive, score multipliers result in amazing amounts of junk (pieces of broken eggs, and what appears to be confetti) flying all over the playfield when you break eggs, and the score markers rising from the eggs you have broken linger on the screen for an unnecessarily long time. These latter two items cover up unacceptable amounts of the screen for very long periods of time -- you cannot wait for the screen to clear or the eggs rushing down the screen will crush you, but you also cannot see what eggs have been left behind after you have broken some, which often leads to an egg being stuck out at an odd angle.

Also, the game's internal logic lags dramatically. I have had numerous situations in which the game at first decided I had saved myself from crushing, and then the game ended without any reasonable explanation. The first time it happened I had achieved a dynomite combo, and was waiting for the egg to become a bomb. This takes a significant amount of time during which you cannot fire and the eggs keep moving down the screen -- a real annoyance. Based on the amount of time the eggs rested on the bottom line I should have been crushed, but I was not. I fired the bomb, which moved the eggs up the playfield, and BOOM! The "crush" noise was played (Though the eggs did not rush down to crush me) and the game was over. Obviously events are being placed in some sort of queue which is not examined frequently enough, suggesting that the very architecture of the game is inherently flawed.

My conclusion is that both online and deluxe versions of dynomite are too poorly crafted to be worth playing, when a superior game (Puzzle Bobble) is available for so many platforms, including NeoGeo Arcade, NeoGeo CD, NeoGeo Pocket, Sega Game Gear, Super Nintendo, PC, 3DO, Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn, and probably others. I give Dynomite a 4 out of a possible 10 rating due to bad game mechanics, annoying graphics gimmicks, and simply for being a bad ripoff of one of the best-loved and most-played (and playable) puzzle games ever.

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